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Australia

One in three left without phone, internet when connecting to NBN

One in three households moved onto the National Broadband Network in the last 12 months was left without a home phone or an internet connection.

The majority had their home phone and internet restored within seven days, with one in five having connection returned in 24 hours, but one in 10 was still waiting after a month, research released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) shows.

A third of households moved onto the NBN in the past 12 months complained to their provider.

A third of households moved onto the NBN in the past 12 months complained to their provider.

The most commonly cited reason for more than 60 per cent of those left without a connection was a ‘technical issue with installation’, the weighted survey found.

And a third of households who connected within the year had made a complaint to their NBN service provider, with half unresolved at the time of the survey.

These complaints are now the subject of new rules, released by ACMA for consultation on Thursday, aiming to change the handling of customer complaints by the telcos and the NBN Co.

New minimum complaint-handling processes will be required of all service providers and involving the NBN in the resolution process where necessary.

This would mandate time frames for resolution for customers.

Telcos will also be required to maintain records and report their complaint data to the regulator each quarter, which will be published for customers to consider before choosing their provider.

There will be further changes in coming months, including allowing customers to request a speed test from their telco at any time.

The changes will also allow those moved over to the NBN to re-activate their old services if they have been disconnected and cannot get onto the network.

The NBN Co’s own customer experience report, published for the first time on Monday , shows 89 per cent of installs for the NBN were done right the first time and 85 per cent of faults were repaired on time.

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“While the overwhelming majority of users have a smooth migration onto the NBN, we want to ensure the ACMA is a strong cop on the beat, armed to protect consumers from the hand balling of complaints,” Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement.

The ACMA survey, when asking households whether they had experienced an issue or fault since being moved onto the NBN, found almost half had experienced drop-outs.

A third reported slow data speeds generally and 36 per cent had this experience in the peak evening period, typically associated with congestion.

Households and small businesses made more than 27,000 complaints in fiscal 2017 relating to connections and fault issues about NBN services, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones said.

She described the proposed rule changes as a "positive step".

More to come.

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke writes about media and telecommunications.

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